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Groundfish Integrated Advisory Board (GIAB)

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Groundfish Integrated Advisory Board (GIAB) Minutes [PDF]

DRAFT Meeting Minutes | June 21, 2011 | Conference Call

Introductory Remarks and Review of the Agenda

  • Tamee Karim announced the names of the meeting participants in Vancouver to the participants on the conference call, and introduced the new chair, Alice Cheung.
  • Alice Cheung gave an introduction of herself and her experience with the Department thus far. Alice is excited about this opportunity to be the new GIAB chair and is looking forward to have a face-to-face meeting with the group.
  • The Chair reminded the participants that at the previous GIAB meeting on March 10 and 11 in Nanaimo, GIAB had requested the opportunity to provide advice to EC, prior to EC finalizing the Scott Islands NMWA objectives and goals.
  • The Chair reviewed the agenda. GIAB will have an in-camera session from 9 to 10am to discuss key concerns and issues surrounding the proposed Scott Islands National Marine Wildlife Area (NMWA), as well as the circulated Regulatory Strategy document. Angela Stadel from the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada (CWS, EC) will join the meeting from 10 to 12 noon to present an update on the Scott Islands NMWA and answer questions, key concerns and issues GIAB might have.
  • The Chair advised that it would be wise for GIAB to put forward consolidated advice on this subject matter as it would strengthen GIAB’s position and trigger a response from EC.
  • It was suggested by a participant that ‘in-camera’ would imply that the public would not be allowed access to the meeting minutes. If the first hour of the meeting was simply for GIAB to discuss its concerns about the Scott Islands NMWA without Angela Stadel at the meeting, then it should not be referred to as in-camera session.
  • The Chair acknowledged that the participant made a good point and that in future, other terminology will be used to avoid confusion

GIAB Update on Scoot Island NMWA

  • Bruce Turris was invited to give GIAB an update on the Scott Islands NMWA process, as he is a representative of the BC Seafood Alliance/Commercial Industry Caucus on the Scott Islands Advisory Committee.
  • The Scott Islands Advisory Committee consists of representatives from coastal communities (Port Hardy and Mt Waddington), shipping sector (BC chamber of shipping), commercial fishing, recreational fisheries, tourism sector, oil and gas sector (Shell Canada), environmental non-governmental organizations, and government representatives from EC and DFO. The purpose of the advisory committee is to advise the Scott Islands steering committee on the implementation of the NMWA.
  • The Scott Islands are home to 60% of the world population of Cassin’s Auklets, which have seen population declines of around 40% in the past five years. As well, Rhinoceros Auklets as well as Tufted Puffins are among the seabirds that breed on the island, and their populations have declined quite dramatically as well. Evidence of the decline currently points towards climate change, as well as an increase in predators of seabird eggs and juveniles, such as minks, rats and racoons.
  • The marine area around the Scott Islands is known to be foraging areas for these bird species.
  • CWS tagged 40 birds of each species and followed them over 2 to 3 years and found that they travel about 55km from the island. They used this radio-telemetry as well as some observed data to determine the foraging area for the birds, and as a result, develop a draft boundary for the Scott Islands NMWA. This NMWA is covers an estimated total area of 12,000 km, and makes up a significant area of the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA).
  • There is no evidence that fishing activities have impacted the birds’ foraging species. There are currently no commercial fisheries on sand lance or on euphausiids. Additionally, there is no evidence that the Scott Islands and the surrounding marine foraging area are impacted by shipping and other activities.
  • However, CWS believes that precautionary measures should be taken given the significant decline of these bird species, and propose to do so in the form of establishing the Scott Islands NMWA.
  • At the recent Scott Islands Advisory Committee meeting, some key concerns were raised:
    • The oil and gas, shipping, community of Port Hardy and commercial fishing sectors voiced the concern over the extensive size of the proposed NMWA. These sectors felt that the area proposed in the NMWA is too large.
    • Concern was raised about the difference between the Wildlife Act and the Oceans Act. In the Wildlife Act, once an NMWA is established, all activities are prohibited unless permitted. This is in contrast to the Oceans Act, whereby permitted and prohibited activities are required to be determined prior to the establishment of the MPA.
    • There were also concerns about how the NMWA legislation would work since it appears that there is greater flexibility within the Wildlife Act to permit activities. For example, the Minister of Environment could issue a permit for a specific activity for one year, and use their discretion to decide not to issue a permit in the next year.
    • Concern was raised that EC will also not permit any future activities that have an impact on the area and forage species within the NMWA, as well as the Scott Islands. This would mean that no future commercial fisheries on forage species or oil and gas explorations would be allowed, even if the activity passes an Environmental Impact Assessment.
    • There was concern expressed over the continued erosion of DFO’s authority for the management of resources in the NMWA.
  • A DFO representative stated that the Department has spoken with the CWS on this issue and has suggested that this issue be addressed through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) be established between EC and DFO. Under this MOU, the Minister of Fisheries would retain the authority to delegate permits to activities (e.g. fishing) through existing fisheries’ licence conditions and reporting through the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan. CWS is not keen to take on permitting, so it would be beneficial to them for DFO to use current tools to permit current fishing activities in the area. DFO is yet to hear back from CWS on this issue.
  • There was clarification from a representative that the Minister of Environment still gets ultimate discretion of permitted activities in the NMWA.

GIAB Discussion

  • There was discussion about key concerns and questions on the Scott Islands NMWA and the Regulatory Strategy document. GIAB listed the following concerns and questions. It was noted that GIAB did not reach consensus on this list of concerns, as the ENGO representatives did not agree with the other stakeholder groups (refer to footnotes for specific disagreements):
    • On process:
      1. Is there a process between DFO and CWS i) to assess impacts of current and future activities and ii) to determine a means to decide whether activities are allowed in the area?
    • On vision, purpose, goals and objectives
      1. There seems to be inconsistency between sections 4.1 (p.7) and 4.3.3 (p. 9). Although section 4.3.3 implies that current fishing activities will be allowed, 4.1 states that the activity “will be permitted…if they will benefit wildlife and their habitat or will contribute to wildlife conservation, or is otherwise consistent with the criteria and purpose for which the NWA was established as stated in the management plan”. The latter wording would presumably exclude fishing activity as it is an extraction of resource.1
      2. Section 4.1 also states that the activity “will be permitted…if they are consistent with the purpose for which the NWA was established”. According to the CWS document, the ‘purpose’ of the Scott Islands NMWA is ‘conservation and research’, which would presumably exclude fishing activity. Can CWS confirm if current activities in the area would be permitted?
      3. Section 4.1 also states that the “activity will be permitted…if they are consistent with the most recent management plan for the NWA”. Who develops the management plan? Can current activities continue in the absence of a management plan, or are we required to wait until the management plan has been developed?
      4. What are the implications of this inconsistency in wording? It is possible that EC could face a legal challenge for permitting fishing activity if it is shown to be inconsistent with the stated ‘purpose’ and section 4.1.
      5. There are certain key words that are used throughout the document that should be defined for clarification:
        1. ‘Forage species’ – How is a ‘forage species’ determined? Are there criteria for determining what ‘forage species’ means? For example, if a rockfish DNA sample was found in a Tufted Puffin’s stomach contents, would rockfish be declared a ‘forage species’?
        2. ‘Ecosystem functions’ (goal 1A, p. 6) – How is that term defined?
        3. ‘Minimized’ (goal 2, p. 6) – This word lacks clarity and is too strong a term. Minimized to what level? A proposed wording is ‘managed, consistent with conservation objectives’.2
        4. ‘Disturbance’ (goal 1A, p.6) – Any activity could be deemed a ‘disturbance’. For example, a vessel passing through the area could be classified to be a ‘disturbance’. A proposed wording is ‘harmful disturbance’. The vagueness of this term brings about difficulty from an enforcement point of view.
        5. ‘Enforcement is implemented in cooperation with other agencies, First Nations and marine users’ (goal 3B, p.6) – Can this be clarified? What does CWS mean by this? Would First Nations guardians and other marine users be enforcing the NMWA?

1 ENGO representatives did not agree on this concern and pointed out that a full reading of the complete sentence in question allows for activities that are consistent with the criteria and purpose of the NWA . They stated that section 4.3.3 clearly permits current fishing activities.

2 This concern was also brought up at the Scott Islands Advisory Committee meeting where representatives from the Port Hardy and Mount Waddington communities, oil and gas, and fishing sectors were concerned about this wording. However, no consensus was reached at the committee (as well as GIAB) on the adoption of the proposed wording. ENGO representatives support the term ‘minimize’, as they are of the opinion ‘minimize’ is less strong of a term than ‘prevent’.

CWS Update on Scott Islands NMWA

  • Angela Stadel from CWS gave GIAB a brief background on the Scott Islands NMWA, the process, and how the draft goals, objectives, and management approach in the Regulatory Strategy were developed.
  • CWS held a technical workshop to develop draft goals and objectives of the Scott Islands NMWA. Workshop participants included DFO biologists, oceanographers, EC seabird biologists, forage species biologists. These draft goals and objectives were then presented to the advisory board and steering committee.
  • A record of consultations, cost-benefit analysis and regulatory impact assessment (RIAS) will be developed and submitted as a package before the Scott Islands NMWA is posted on Canada Gazette I. Actual regulatory changes would be made as an amendment to Schedule I of the Wildlife Area Regulations.

GIAB Discussion

  • Angela addressed the previously discussed questions and concerns:
    • On process:
      1. 1. Bruce Reid is the DFO representative on the Scott Islands Advisory Committee and provides a DFO perspective to the process. CWS has met with DFO to discuss a process to assess impacts of current activities and how to go about allowing the activities. There is definitely interest to developing a process between the two departments to work collaboratively on the management of activities in the NMWA.
    • On vision, purpose, goals and objectives:
      1. and 3. Under the Wildlife Act, there will be a general prohibition on all activities within the NMWA. However, there are two ways that activities can be allowed to occur: i) by notice – this is currently outdated as it requires a posting in the local newspaper, or ii) by permit – issued by the Minister of Environment. It is important to note that CWS is not proposing issue permits, but to authorize current activities by providing notice. The advice received from DFO is that existing Integrated Fisheries Management Plans can be a medium for providing notice to allow current fishing activities.
        These notices would last for 5 years, after which an evaluation would be undertaken. This notice of allowed activities should be announced alongside the formal establishment of the Scott Islands NWMA in Canada Gazette I. CWS looked at the current fishing activities in the area and felt that the best approach was to allow for activities to continue given the existing information about the fisheries – There is little to no impact on forage species, and although there is some impact on the seabirds, mitigation efforts are in place (e.g. mandatory use of seabird avoidance devices in the commercial groundfish hook and line fisheries).
        With respect to section 4.1, the three requirements under which activities will be permitted are ‘or’ statements. Therefore fishing activities will only have to only address one of these three requirements.
      2. A management plan is not required to issue the notice or permits for current activities. In the absence of a management plan, activities can be allowed through the ‘management approach’ described in the Regulatory Strategy. It is anticipated that the management plan will be developed by the Steering Committee. The Terms of Reference for that committee is currently being reviewed.
      3. Current fishing activities would still be consistent with the ‘purpose’ of the Scott Islands NMWA. The term conservation as used in this context includes the idea of ‘sustainable use’.
      4. Key words:
        1. ‘Forage species’ – Seabird biologists have done an analysis of stomach contents and used existing scientific papers to determine the key forage species of these bird species. Stomach content data would have to be collected over a few years and make up a significant portion of the species’ diet to be determined a ‘forage species’.
        2. ‘Ecosystem Function’ – This would be defined as ‘linkages to primary productivity’. This term is consistent with that used in MPA documents. This will be better defined and simplified. A DFO representative noted that this definition will have to be specific to the Scott Islands NMWA.
        3. ‘Minimized’ – The term is defined as ‘reduce or keep to a minimum’. The intent is to improve practices to reduce the risk. The term was not changed to the proposed term as the advisory committee did not reach a consensus on the issue. A DFO representative stated that even though there was no consensus reached at the advisory committee, there were a lot of sectors that voiced their concern over the use of that term. If the Regulatory Strategy states that current activities are allowed since mitigative actions have been taken and the risk is low, then using the word ‘minimize’ would imply that more needs to be done to reduce risk. It was stressed that a compromise should be made and an alternative term be adopted. In any matter, the word ‘minimize’ should not be used due to the concerns that were raised.
        4. ‘Disturbance’ – It was acknowledged that this term needs more specificity. This was also brought up by the advisory committee.
        5. ‘Enforcement’ – The intent behind goal 3B was more collaboration than a delegation of authority to enforce.
  • It was stressed that the goals and objectives are high-level and therefore not specific. These goals and objectives will not be added to the NWA Regulations but will be included in the RIAS.
  • More specific details will be included in the management plan.
  • There was a discussion about anchoring vessels and the required distances they have to be from shore. It was noted that the concern was mostly for large shipping vessels (>400 tons) that could carry rats to the islands. CWS is still working with Transport Canada to finalize this regulation.
  • There was a discussion about the difference between goals 3 and 4. It was clarified that while the intent of goal 3 is to collaborate with other existing and future planning initiatives (e.g. PNCIMA), the intent of goal 4 is to improve understanding of the ecosystem in the NMWA and research, evaluation and monitoring. There will be risk evaluation and ongoing assessment as new information becomes available (i.e. adaptive management).
  • A DFO representative asked if evaluation was done through a peer-reviewed process (e.g. CSAS). As there is no such process in EC, it might be something that both departments will have to discuss. There is also the option of using existing technical advisory bodies (e.g. PNCIMA’s Marine Technical Advisory Team).
  • It was expressed by a GIAB member that the goals of the Canada BC MPA Network Strategy should be consistent with goals highlighted in the Scott Islands NWMA Regulatory Strategy.
  • There was a discussion about the cost-benefit analysis. The net cost analysis is required by Treasury Board (TB) guidelines. The benefits analysis is proving to be tricky as there will not be any financial gain from tourism from the establishment of the NMWA. Currently, a survey tool is being developed to find out Canadians’ ‘willingness to pay’ to see the NMWA established. This survey tool was advised by the advisory committee and is being developed by a graduate student under the supervision of Dr. Nancy Olewiler at SFU. EC’s economists will combine the cost analysis and the benefit analysis to form the RIAS.
  • A GIAB member raised the concern that the cost analysis is carried out with the assumption that it is possible to quantify dollar amounts of all use activities. However, this assumption might not be true in certain circumstances. Concern was also expressed about the use of “willingness to pay” as research has shown such methodology can yield inconsistent results.
  • It was stressed that the cost analysis will be undertaken with the idea that current commercial fishing activity will continue, and will take into account implications of implementation of the Scott Islands NMWA (e.g. continued monitoring of seabirds which has an incremental cost to harvesters as well as administrative costs to DFO).
  • CWS intends to write a TB submission for the implementation of the Scott Islands NMWA. This may be a combined request between EC and DFO, due to other DFO-led marine planning initiatives (e.g. PNCIMA and other MPAs).
  • Next Steps:
    • Stakeholders and interested parties will have another opportunity to provide comments in the fall during the consultation period. CWS intends to engage other DFO advisory bodies such as the commercial salmon and sardine advisory boards.
    • Angela will present preliminary information of the cost-benefit analysis at the Groundfish Forum on October 11 in Nanaimo if the information is ready.

Upcoming Meetings

  • The Chair reminded GIAB of some upcoming meetings in Nanaimo:
    • Groundfish Forum – October 11th; and
    • GIAB Discussion on Integration – Oct 12th.

Meeting adjourned: 12:00 pm

Summary of Action Items

  • Angela Stadel will make clarifications in section 4.1 of the Regulatory Strategy document to emphasize ‘or’ statements, as well as clearly stating that in the absence of a management plan, current activities would be permitted through the management approach as documented in regulatory strategy.
  • Angela Stadel will define the term ‘conservation’ as used in the Scott Islands NMWA ‘purpose’ statement to clarify that it includes the notion of ‘sustainable use’.
  • Interpretation of the current legislation and regulations with respect to section 4.1. Angela indicated that the three requirements under which activities will be permitted are ‘or’ statements. Therefore interpretation will be that fishing activities will only have to only address one of these three requirements.
    • Members of the GIAB are concerned that a plain reading of the Act and regulations by an impartial observer would lead to the same conclusion. Given this, it might be helpful to have a clear and unambiguous policy statement on this subject from both the fisheries and environment ministers.
  • Angela Stadel will bring the key concerns raised by members of GIAB to the Steering Committee.
  • GIAB to send June 21st meeting minutes and other comments to Angela by June 28th.

Appendix 1

Meeting Participants
Name Interests
Alice Cheung (Chair)
Tamee Karim
Wanli Ou (Minutes)
Rob Tadey
Barry Ackerman
Megan Cornall
Frank Snelgrove
Rick Stanley
Fisheries & Oceans Canada
Angela Stadel Canadian Wildlife Services, Environment Canada (CWS, EC)
Brian Mose (Trawl)
Bruce Turris (Trawl)
Dave Dawson (Processor)
Chris Sporer (Halibut alternate)
Commercial Industry Caucus (CIC)
Chuck Ashcroft
Gerry Kristiansen
Sport Fish Advisory Board (SFAB)
Scott Wallace
John Driscoll
Marine Conservation Caucus (MCC)
Irvin Figg United Fishermen & Allied Workers Union (UFAWU)